Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Anniversary Prich !

 Check out the Anniversary Video at KET:

Committed to Excellence: 

The Story of the Prichard Committee

Committed to Excellence is a documentary honoring the work of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, independent citizens' advocacy group made up of volunteer parents and citizens from around Kentucky, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary in 2003. This is an edited version. (Originally produced and directed by Diana J. Taylor) Length: 00:09:55 First aired in its original version: June 29, 2003.


Skip Kifer said...

The first Prichard Committee should be required reading for those who wish to understand Kentucky education. It came at a time of unprecedented influence and independence for the committee.

Anonymous said...

I agree with my colleague Skip that one should read about the Prichard Committee. I'd start with Terry Campbell's biography of Prich first.

For the life of me, though, I can't believe Bob Sexton's successor is Stu Silberman... To quote my mamaw in Whitesburg "What were they thinkin...?"

As one of my colleagues in the College of Education said after Stu's arrival at the Prichard Committee: :If Prichard hated Happy Chandler, what would he think of Stu Silberman in the position of executive director?" The two are cut from the same mold....

Richard Day said...

I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about the issue of Prichard leadership and hope to do more with the topic in the future. But I don’t have a definitive conclusion that I’m ready to defend in a scholarly sense.
That said, let me give folks something to shoot at and maybe we can figure out some of this together.

It is good to remember that The Prichard Committee has not always been the same thing. It evolved under Sexton from
• a fledgling civic organization (albeit with a politically prominent membership) seeking its proper role;
• to the group upon whom Bert Combs bestowed $50,000 (through an East Ky coal operator/friend) which allowed the Committee to catch lightning in a bottle with its state-wide Town Hall and re-launch itself as a true grassroots organization;
• to the policy group that criticized public education, acted as watchdog, and whose roadmap for education reform (Pathway to a Larger life) was adopted by the court;
• to the post-KERA defender of the crown which fought off SB1 - until the KEA jumped ship on writing portfolios and Bob couldn’t count enough votes anymore;
• to the group that helped recraft SB1 (I can’t defend the specifics of this claim…yet) into KERA 2.0 and once again regained prominence over those who defeated the CATS test in the wake of NCLB.

Throughout, there have been a fairly stable set of underlying themes. Prich has always stood for quality instruction, higher standards, increased equity and access, and data-based decision-making (accountability).

When I try to guess what they were thinkin’, I also try to guess who else could have followed Sexton and still been something of a Sexton. Kati Haycock (who wasn’t leaving her post)? Who else ya got?

After a few weeks of searching (if memory serves) Stu must have looked like the only one available (or one who could very soon become available, if you choose – though Stu says that’s was not how it went down). He was tough, connected, had a big name, could run an organization… His FCPS critics had made revelations which tarnished his once pristine image, and board support appeared to be slipping, but all things considered, he could move on relatively unscathed – nothing his supporters couldn’t write off as the cost of doing business. The timing was right.

I imagine the folks who chose Stu were ultimately pleased and relieved and spent little time examining any historical shifts represented by the choice.

While Silberman lacks Sexton’s academic chops, and his political chops are still somewhat unknown, he is not devoid of skills. He started off by posing questions and listening to the Prichard membership - not the worst approach one might choose. If he’s not leading, he’s certainly listening to national discussions and bringing issues before the membership that are important and he seems to have zeroed in on Early Childhood Ed and Parent Advocacy as his bailiwick. He’s more connected to social media than Bob was, or could have been.

I totally understand those who question Silberman and compare him disapprovingly to Sexton. And I know it must seem that when I’m not smacking him, I’m defending him. But I have a scholarly interest in the topic and so I must explore all sides of the issue as objectively as possible.

Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

SILBERMAN lacks decency and erudition.

You are right: He was the only left.

Skip Kifer said...


Check out the goals for higher education as defined by the first Prichard report and compare those to the present goals of CPE. Those differences tell a lot of the tale.